For the past five (ish) years, I’ve been a vegetarian. During the bitterly cold Ohio winters, I’ve had a piece of fish (salmon or cod) just to warm up my bones, but mostly during these last five years I’ve enjoyed a plant-based diet. And I’ve also enjoyed fasting regularly. (Both raw juice fasting and water fasting.) I’ve come to delight in the feeling of lightness, of clear-headedness, that comes with this way of life. I have also felt like dropping meat from my diet has allowed me to channel Reiki energy more strongly and has allowed me to connect with beautiful, transcendent beings from non-Earth realms.
Yes indeed, this path has suited me. It’s not felt like a tremendous effort or a struggle to not eat meat. I have been content. In fact, I’ve often yearned to go further—maybe I should become vegan? Or even raw vegan? After seeing how amazingly, gloriously high I felt from about two weeks of consuming nothing but raw juice, I’ve toyed with the idea of lightening my diet further.
And then, something interesting happened. About three months ago, I moved into a house with two meat-eaters. It was then that my food-world went a bit topsy turvy.
To my ego’s dismay, I realized I had some deep healing work to do.
I began to notice how I carried an inner judgment, a harsh critique, every time I saw my housemates buying, cooking, or eating meat. I noticed how indignant, how righteous I felt: I was the “good yogi” and they were hedonistic, unethical jerks.
But these judgments hurt my soul. These are two people that I love. They are deeply spiritual people. Were they necessarily wrong? Was I necessarily right? Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure. When I broached the subject with them, inquiring as to why they ate meat, they stated simply that their bodies required it. They had both experimented with other ways of eating, but, in the end, settled on what felt right for them. As I listened, I had my doubts (any properly trained yogi would, as we’ve come to believe in such things as breatharianism and other radical forms of gaining sustenance), but, overall, I felt the sincerity of their words. They believed their bodies required meat for stamina and good health. Who was I to disagree? Who was I to judge? However, I needed to be honest with them about how I felt. As we unpacked our boxes and planned the details of our lives together, I told them about how disgusting meat was to me. I hated to look at it and smell it. So, we came to a compromise. They would refrain from eating meat on Saturdays, and, overall, try to eat less of it.
Now, here’s where the story gets interesting. For the past year or so, I’ve been actually having twinges of craving meat. I’d be out at Chipolte, watching the woman in front of me order a steak burrito, and my mouth would suddenly water. Whaaaat??? Really???!!! How weird???!!! Even though the thought of actually tearing cow’s flesh with my teeth made me want to mentally gag, some part of my deeper being seemed to ask for it. Very odd indeed. But I pushed these thoughts away. They were simply incompatible with my spiritual path.
But these little strange moments kept coming up. Like, I’d be at the grocery store, walking (quickly) past the meat aisle and then have the thought, “Get some meat.” The thought would feel so disorienting. I would shake my head and bolt away with haste.
Then, about a month ago, I made a new wonderful friend. His name is Ian. We were having a lovely time together, walking in the woods. He began to tell me about his carnivore diet—about how he used to be a vegan for a long time and how it was not compatible with his body type. I listened with intrigue. Had it been even a few months earlier (before living with my new roommates), I would have rejected his point of view…but I was, suddenly, that day, in the right state of mind to truly absorb his words. I was open to him.
As he shared his story, I was moved by his sincerity and suddenly felt my crown chakra opening. The world got very bright and time seemed to stop. What was this? His words kept flowing through me, until the message inside my heart was very clear. “It’s time for you to bring a little meat into your life, Anya.”
For me (the well-trained yogi, the highly-sensitive energy healer), these words came as a shock. I didn’t want it. They made zero sense to my logical brain…but on the level of heart, I understood. Maybe I needed to incorporate a little meat into my diet so that I could dissolve the judgments against my housemates? Maybe I needed a little more humility, a little more flexibility in my soul. Maybe, also, my body was crying out for some nutrients that simply doesn’t exist within plants. Or maybe I needed to stop floating in the clouds and get a bit more grounded? As Ian’s words washed over me, I recalled a few recent grocery store trips when I allowed myself to actually stop in the meat aisle, my eyes transfixed on a piece of beef, a feeling of desire in my bones. What was that all about, anyway? I had dismissed the few incidents as silly cravings of the ego…but were they?
I didn’t have all the answers. All that I did know was that the Universe was calling me to eat some meat now. I couldn’t ignore the message anymore.
So, dear friends, I’ve begun to eat a little meat. Yes, me. The proud vegetarian. The at-times haughty yogi. Of course, as you can imagine, I do it all in a very intentional way: as I prepare and eat, there are many prayers and words of humility and gratitude for the beautiful being that is becoming one with my flesh. So sacred, so intimate a process. And, of course, all meat that I eat henceforth will always be carefully, ethically sourced: free-range, organic, raised with love, etc.
As I ate my first forkful of meat in five years, sweet Ian by my side, I didn’t—to my surprise—vomit. It actually tasted rather good. And I noticed a deep sense of relief within my body. A kind of lovely gravity.
As I took a second forkful, I heard the spirit of that beautiful cow say to me: “Welcome back to Earth, Anya.”
After hovering somewhere outside my body for the past five years, hardly ever within it, this was an interesting message. That night I slept more soundly than usual, embraced by Mother Earth. I felt different, in a good way. I felt more human. (In a good way.)
It’s safe to assume that I’ll never become a heavy meat eater. Once or twice a week, tops. Maybe sometimes I will refrain from it for weeks or months if I’m in a fasting mood. But I can report that, right now, my body feels healthier and stronger. Maybe it’s the Ohio climate that’s causing me to need meat in my diet, or my shaky thyroid. Maybe it’s simply karma: it’s time to unravel lifetimes of uptight judgment against meat-eaters. Whatever the reason(s), I’m here, doing this. It feels really weird, but also really good. I like that I can change my mind and go with the flow of life. I like that I can listen to the Universe as it asks me to grow and change.
Am I embarrassed about all this? Yes, a little. These days it’s much hipper to be a vegetarian than a meat-eater. But what the f*** does hipness have to do with spirituality? Zero.
When I realized I was embarrassed about eating meat, that’s when I decided to write this blog. It’s been my practice to show myself, honestly, in my writing. To show all the dents and fears as they come up. To show myself as a spiritual teacher who is not afraid to rip off the mask and say, “I hurt, too. I get confused, too. Life is strange sometimes, yes, I know.”
My practice has been courage, even when I don’t feel it. My practice has been sharing, when all I want to do is hide. It works for me.
What are your practices? How do you keep yourself accountable, to both yourself and the world? I’d love to hear about these things in the comments below.
No matter our individual disposition, no matter our own unique practices and path, I feel it’s vital for each of us to continually listen to the whispers of our heart, ever-changing, as we are lead, day by day, toward our optimal wellbeing. Nobody else should unduly influence us as to what to believe or what to think, not even those who seem so pure. Everybody’s on their own gorgeous, weird, and confusing journey.
The heart will speak, guide.
The question is: Will we listen?
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